It is “Sunshine Week,” a time for attending to government transparency issues. And the president issued a statement today commemorating the occassion. Norm Eisen, the president’s special counsel for ethics and government reform, put a more detailed “Happy Sunshine Week” post on the Whitehouse.gov blog today as well.
The administration has done some good things, and there is no doubt that it means to do well. My pet transparency issue is one on which the news is not so good, however: the “Sunlight Before Signing” promise to post bills received from Congress for five days before they are made law.
When I last reported, the president was seven for 142 on fulfilling this promise. Of 142 bills subject to Sunlight Before Signing, only seven have been posted for five days. Since then another law has passed—H.R. 1299/P.L. 111-145, which was presented to the president on March 2nd, posted on Whitehouse.gov on March 4th, and signed into law the same day.
No emergency excuses the “United States Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009” from the sunlight treatment. Had it been posted, Americans may have had the opportunity to ask why a bill of that name establishes a “Corporation for Travel Promotion” to encourage international travel to the United States.
(Answer: S. 1023 was rolled into it, obscuring what Congress was doing in a common but insidious way. Cost of S. 1023 per U.S. family: about $24.)
The White House’s fulfillment of the Sunlight Before Signing promise now stands at seven for 143, or .049.
In his post, Norm Eisen said, “We are proud of our successes, but we of course recognize that much remains to be done, and we intend to redouble our efforts to make government as transparent, collaborative and participatory as possible.” And in his statement, the president said, “We are proud of these accomplishments, but our work is not done. We will continue to work toward an unmatched level of transparency, participation and accountability across the entire Administration.”
The successes touted by Eisen and the president are real. We’re looking forward to more!